Local News

Tusayan Town Council Entirely Made Up Of Developer Employees

September 20, 2015

 The Tusayan town Council has named John Schoppmann as its newest member, replacing Bill Fitzgerald who retired and left Tusayan. There was very little public comment or discussion. The interview process for the three candidates was done in executive session. When the Council met in open session September 16th the announcement was made.

This marks the first time that all five members of the Tusayan Town Council are employed by Elling Halvorson or Italian developer Stilo. Stilo and Halvorson are behind the controversial development that would create three million square feet of commercial space and place thousands of new homes in the environmentally fragile area bordering the Grand Canyon.

The other candidates for the job were Rob Baldosky who led a successful initiative to place term limits on the Town Council and establish procedures for replacing council members. Baldosky is also a builder who has done a considerable amount of work for Stilo. Businesswoman Clarinda Vail was the third candidate. She was overlooked despite considerable experience that includes serving on the school board, repeated, valuable and active participation in town government including serving on the Town Council in the past. She was instrumental in the effort to re-open the Grand Canyon during the last government shutdown. She has also served on the Rotary, the Chamber of Commerce, and the Kaibab Learning Center.

Vail has also been instrumental in providing quality employee housing without the lucrative deals that have been worked out with Stilo and its partner Halvorson. Her business built Fireside Ridge stands in stark contrast to the trailer homes Halvorson has established. She is aslo opposed to the Stilo project as is the Grand Canyon National Park, The Havasupai Indian Community, The Sierra Club and about 200,000 people who wrote to the Forest expressing concern.

Schoppmann was the first applicant to file. He has lived in Tusayan for two and a half years and has served on Tusayan’s Planning and Zoning Commission. Schoppmann, who has labored on planning and zoning was asked why he wanted to take the next step, “I saw the need and I wasn’t sure there would be the other people that were interested. I was surprised that there were more people interested. I didn’t think anybody would at the time. And I was surprised there wasn’t more.” He adds two council approached and asked him to apply.

Despite Schoppmann’ s apparent good intentions, his appointment marks the first time there are no dissenting opinions on the council with the respect to the Stilo project. Fitzgerald, whom Schoppmann replaces, was a prominent voice against the project and the top vote getter in the last election.